I was told today by a sixth grader the three words Mom would never allow me to say.
“I hate you.”
It came as quite as a shock, since I haven’t heard those words since… oh, I don’t know…. that afternoon in high school when I stole Jessica’s seat in the recliner after promising I would not as she got up to get some ice cream. It was during those 4 p.m. back-to-back episodes of Saved By the Bell. To leave your seat–and the recliner was the most coveted– was just too risky. Kathryn, Jessica and I would race from the steps of the bus, past three houses, up the driveway, through the garage, inside the locked door and to the ugly chair positioned perfectly with the TV. The two losers were left with the green plaid couch but with the freedom to get up and get a snack without fear or retribution.
I had the same reaction today as I did then. I wanted to throw a kick. Much like how I high-kicked Jessica back then from my new seat in the recliner, which unfortunately connected with some brute force to her pinkie finger, which about two hours later was being wrapped in white tape by a doctor who, by quite a coincidence, was a mother of one of her friends, who for sure teased her about it for years.
She really hated me for like a week. Possibly longer.
I can’t say exactly how long this punk kid has been hating me. It could have started the week I made him read the girls’ part of the dialogue just to pick on him. It could have been the day we made s’mores when he was being his usual punk self so I made him sit out in the hallway so he could only hear the delighted screams of his classmates eating chocolate in class.
His anger has been showing for the last month. And I have tried to win him back over. But it is to no avail.
Just as I asked the class how they were doing today, a question I pose every day to illicit answers such as “terrible because it is raining” “happy because I made a good grade” “bored because I am at school,” he piped in with:
“Because of you.”
“Me. Why?” (Really I shouldn’t have gone there. Rookie mistake.)
“Because I hate you.”
I came out of class fuming 40 minutes later.
How could anyone hate me?!? I asked Whit, clearly dumbfounded by these three words I haven’t heard since Jessica’s pinkie finger was almost broken, which I am truly sorry about.
Whit also had no ideas, being that the doghouse is not a place he likes to sleep, but he did have a few chuckles over how upset it made me.
So I’m taking his advice, which sounds vaguely familiar to the “words of wisdom” I received when I was twelve:
Just ignore him.